Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Health Professionals

By Lyn Shipway | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Existing challenges and future opportunities

CHALLENGING EXISTING PRACTICE
There has been a significant growth in the number of healthcare initiatives across the United Kingdom specifically designed to improve practice related to the identification and management of domestic abuse in a variety of health and social care settings. This chapter summarizes obstacles that may inhibit good practice development by identifying the challenges currently facing practitioners.
MAINTAINING THE SILENCE IN HEALTHCARE SETTINGS
Throughout, this book has explored the various reasons why staff may not respond to the needs of clients within a domestic abuse situation in a way that is either pro-active or effective. Such reasons include:
• Even when victims are identified, doctors' and nurses' attitudes are ambivalent about the nature of domestic abuse, with many believing that it is not their business to intervene.
• Some staff continue to consider domestic abuse as a private matter and therefore unless the woman directly asks for help believe that it is not their business.
• Occasionally staff exhibit inappropriate behaviour that discourages clients from disclosing the abuse or their fear of it. Staff may ignore signs that abuse is taking place and on occasion may avoid spending time with the client/patient.
• Repeatedly, studies indicate that there is inadequate education and training at all levels of each organization.
• Research in the subject area needed to effectively guide policy-making is often inconclusive, which leads some organizations to ignore the issues or to offer minimum levels of care.
• It is necessary for some professionals to create psychological distance from the problem, often because the subject is 'too close to home'. Organizations without supportive domestic violence policies for the well-being of staff may have little success implementing wider initiatives for client groups.
• A lack of understanding of the abusive process may lead to the frustration of health professionals when victims return repeatedly to a violent situation but continue to

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